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Colorful Niches of Phytoplankton Shaped by the Spatial Connectivity in a Large River Ecosystem: a Riverscape Perspective

Frenette, J.-J. et Massicotte, P. et Lapierre, J.-F. (2012). Colorful Niches of Phytoplankton Shaped by the Spatial Connectivity in a Large River Ecosystem: a Riverscape Perspective. PLoS One , 7 (4). p. 1-18. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035891.

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Large rivers represent a significant component of inland waters and are considered sentinels and integrators of terrestrial and atmospheric processes. They represent hotspots for the transport and processing of organic and inorganic material from the surrounding landscape, which ultimately impacts the bio-optical properties and food webs of the rivers. In large rivers, hydraulic connectivity operates as a major forcing variable to structure the functioning of the riverscape, and--despite increasing interest in large-river studies--riverscape structural properties, such as the underwater spectral regime, and their impact on autotrophic ecological processes remain poorly studied. Here we used the St. Lawrence River to identify the mechanisms structuring the underwater spectral environment and their consequences on pico- and nanophytoplankton communities, which are good biological tracers of environmental changes. Our results, obtained from a 450 km sampling transect, demonstrate that tributaries exert a profound impact on the receiving river's photosynthetic potential. This occurs mainly through injection of chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) and non-algal material (tripton). CDOM and tripton in the water column selectively absorbed wavelengths in a gradient from blue to red, and the resulting underwater light climate was in turn a strong driver of the phytoplankton community structure (prokaryote/eukaryote relative and absolute abundances) at scales of many kilometers from the tributary confluence. Our results conclusively demonstrate the proximal impact of watershed properties on underwater spectral composition in a highly dynamic river environment characterized by unique structuring properties such as high directional connectivity, numerous sources and forms of carbon, and a rapidly varying hydrodynamic regime. We surmise that the underwater spectral composition represents a key integrating and structural property of large, heterogeneous river ecosystems and a promising tool to study autotrophic functional properties. It confirms the usefulness of using the riverscape approach to study large-river ecosystems and initiate comparison along latitudinal gradients.

Type de document: Article scientifique
Statut du texte intégral: Autre
Mots-clés libres: Fleuves, Connectivité hydraulique, Phytoplancton, Écosystème, Propriétés autotrophe, Changements environnementaux // Large rivers, Hydraulic connectivity, Phytoplankton, Riverscape perspective, Ecosystem, Autotrophic Properties, Environmental changes
Sujets: 1. Laboratoire de développement durable > 1.7. Environnement, écologie, écosystème
2. Milieu physique > 2.4. Hydrologie
3. Végétation, milieux humides
4. Faune
8. Impacts et monitoring > 8.1. Qualité de l’eau
Date de dépôt: 02 avr. 2017 13:17
Dernière modification: 02 avr. 2017 13:17

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